WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Antoine Griezmann will demand £400,000 a week to join Manchester United in favour of Barcelona, the Sun reports. The paper says the Atletico Madrid striker has been lined up in an £89m deal to join the Red Devils next summer, but that the club have been told their initial offer of £290,000 a week is short of what the 26-year-old wants.
Liverpool are ready to make a move for Monaco star Thomas Lemar as a replacement for Philippe Coutinho, according to the Mirror. The paper says Monaco are making it clear they do not want to sell Lemar, but that Liverpool are ready to test their resolve given any encouragement. However, Sky Sports reports that Liverpool’s decision to allow Coutinho to join Barcelona will not bring forward any possible move for Lemar.
The Mirror also reports that Liverpool are prepared to use some of the record £142m windfall from Coutinho’s move to Barcelona to bring Naby Keita to Anfield early. The side agreed a £55m deal for the midfielder with RB Leipzig in the summer, and the Guinea international was due to spend this season on loan at the Bundesliga side. But the paper says Liverpool are considering paying a premium on top of the fee to bring him in during the January transfer window instead.
Real Madrid are reportedly looking at Cheslea duo Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois as transfer targets this summer. According to Sky Sports, the pair have regularly been linked with Real but are now top of the Spanish champions’ shopping lists.
Chelsea’s Jake Clarke-Salter is poised to complete a loan move to Sunderland, the Daily Mail reports. The paper says the defender, who has been highly-rated at Stamford Bridge, has caught the eye of several Championship clubs, but has been convinced to make the move to Sunderland for a relegation scrap.
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PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ben Wilmot: Liverpool and Arsenal are said to be eyeing up the 18-year-old defender. The Daily Mail reports that scouts for the two sides were watching him as he impressed for Stevenage in their draw against Reading on Saturday.
Karl Toko Ekambi: Brighton are battling West Brom and arch-rivals Crystal Palace for the £12m rated Cameroon striker, the Mirror claims. Seagulls boss Chris Hughton is said to be keen to tie up a deal for the 25-year-old, who plays for French side Angers.
The 25-year-old was the subject of a £118million bid from the Catalan club in August, an approach Liverpool rejected, but he is now heading to the Nou Camp after a deal was agreed on Saturday.
A statement read: “Liverpool can confirm Philippe Coutinho will be leaving the club after a transfer agreement was reached with Barcelona, subject to medical and agreement of personal terms.
“The player now has permission to complete the usual formalities to conclude the transfer immediately.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp stressed his club had done everything possible to persuade Coutinho to remain at Anfield, but revealed the player had been “desperate” to move to Spain ever since July.
“It is with great reluctance that we – as a team and club – prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho,” Klopp said on Liverpool’s website.
“It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known.
“Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his team-mates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.
“Despite that, we managed to keep the player here beyond the summer window, hoping that we would be able to persuade him to stay and be part of what we are looking to do.
“I can tell the Liverpool supporters that we, as a club, have done everything within our means to convince Philippe that remaining part of Liverpool was as attractive as moving to Spain, but he is 100 per cent certain his future – and that of his family – belongs at Barcelona.
“It is his dream and I am now convinced there is nothing left at our disposal to change his mind.”
After being rebuffed by Liverpool when making three bids for Coutinho in the summer, Barcelona instead bought French forward Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for £93million.
That initially reassured Liverpool fans that Coutinho would not be pursued again, but Dembele has missed the last four months of action through injury and speculation about a renewed Catalonian bid for the Anfield favourite grew ever louder heading into the new year.
The saga took an unexpected turn when Nike reportedly advertised a Barcelona shirt for sale with the Brazilian’s name on it in late December. The page is no longer on the website.
Press Association Sport understands the fee for Coutinho consists of an initial 120 million euros (£106.5million), with a further 40 million euros (£35.5million) hinging on add-ons involved in the signing.
Barcelona said the buy-out fee in his new contract will be 400 million euros (£354.5million).
He had not played for Liverpool since the January transfer window opened because of a thigh problem and did not travel with the squad for their warm-weather training camp in Dubai.
Coutinho instead headed to Spain to formalise his transfer on Saturday night and it is expected he will be presented by LaLiga leaders Barcelona on Sunday or Monday.
The Rio-born player arrived at Anfield from Inter Milan for £8.5million in January 2013 and scored 54 goals for the Reds across his appearances in all competitions, although he won no silverware during his five-year stay.
Barcelona appear to have finally succeeded in their long pursuit of Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho.
Reports in both Spain and the UK suggest a British record fee of £142 million – with £105m up front – has been agreed for the Brazil international.
That would be a considerable increase on the £118m which the Catalan club offered and had rejected in August when they made their third unsuccessful bid of the summer.
The 25-year-old, who has not played since the transfer window opened because of a thigh problem, did not travel with the squad for their warm weather training camp in Dubai.
It is now claimed he is travelling to Spain on Saturday night ahead of his presentation on Sunday.
Speculation has been growing about a renewed bid for several days after Coutinho’s bid to force a move in the summer by handing in a transfer request failed to provoke a response.